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Love of soups now a part of Val’s lifestyle

Val Matheny lives her life naturally. She loves gardening, hiking, yoga and lifts weights.
Her kitchen is filled with spices and ingredients for her favorite one-pot meals, soups. A couple of years ago Val decided to explore the reason she had stomach issues. She found that she had problems digesting raw fruits and vegetables. That is when she her love for soups became more of a lifestyle.
Val was born and raised in Mobridge and is a 1973 graduate of Mobridge High School. She moved to Minneapolis, Minn., after graduation and spent four years there before heading west to California where several of her siblings lived. It was in California that Val decided to go back to school. She had thought accounting might be the vocation for her, but she fell in love with the social sciences. She got her teaching degree in high school education but after a couple of years in the San Bernardino school system, she decided elementary students were more to her liking.
She taught grades four through six in San Bernardino and said she loved it. But things changed in San Bernardino and in 1992 Val came back to Mobridge where her mother and grandmother still lived.
She continued her teaching career, starting as a fill-in at Wakpala School before going to McLaughlin where she taught for 21 years. She taught social studies to sixth through eighth graders until the last three years when she moved back into the elementary school.
“I learned a lot teaching in McLaughlin,” she said. “When I was teaching the kids of my former students, I decided I had come full circle and it was time to retire. I wanted to give the younger teachers a chance with the kids.”
She retired in 2014 and went to work for Home Care Services where she works with eight clients. She also works in the summer at the Ace Hardware greenhouse.
Val shops, cleans and cooks for her clients, as well as just spending time with them.
“It’s a wonderful service. So many people in Mobridge need help,” she said. “It is very fulfilling. I am not the teacher anymore, I am the student.”
Val said she enjoys working with her elderly clients.
“I am learning that everybody has a story-every life has a story,” she said.
Val said her cooking skills come from her mother and grandmother.
“And Home Ec,” she laughed. “I learned how to read a recipe in Home Ec.”
Being the natural woman she is, she uses natural ingredients and has adjusted her cooking to her new needs.
“I don’t eat the same things I did as a kid,” she said. “I still eat comfort foods, but I substitute some of the ingredients.”
She is a beef lover, and still indulges in steak and shrimp which is her favorite meal.
Being an avid San Francisco 49ers fan, she listens to the games on Sirius radio and has a running pool with her brothers throughout the season. Val spends fall and winter Sundays listening to the games and cooking soups. She will make a big pot and freeze containers to eat during the week.
Val said she uses a lot of spices in soups for taste as she has cut back on salt.
One thing she said she no longer cooks is chili because she can’t find the right combination of the spices.
“I made a big pot and over spiced it,” she laughed. “What a waste that was. I bought ground chuck for that pot and threw it all away.”
Val lives in her home with her husky mix Thor and a stray cat she rescued.
She recently took up embroidering and said she loves it. Val is an avid reader and spends time reading newspapers online and gets several magazines.
She is looking forward to making some changes in her backyard garden this year, including cutting back on her grass area by letting her flowers grow more naturally.
“No more borders,” she laughed. “The less grass I have to mow the happier I will be.”

Val Matheny’s Recipes

Hamburger Stuffed Pepper Soup
4 large colored peppers, cut into small chunks
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped medium yellow onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1-pound ground beef
1 cup cooked rice
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
2 cans beef stock
2 cans water (add more later if too thick)
In a 4-quart cooking pot, sauté the onions in olive oil until they become translucent. Add the hamburger, cook thoroughly, and drain. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, and salt/pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Top with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Serve with French bread or croissant.

Lentil Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped medium onion
2 diced carrots
2 chopped stalks of celery
2 minced garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
10 cups water
1 cup thinly sliced spinach
In a 4-quart cooking pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots and celery until tender. Stir in garlic, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and salt/pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for close an hour. Stir in a tad bit of apple cider vinegar when ready to serve. Serve with corn bread.

Hamburger Minestrone Soup
1 cup uncooked small elbow macaroni
1-pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
Salt/pepper to taste
1 (32-oz) carton of beef broth
2 cups water (add more later if needed)
1 (14.5-oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (6-oz) can of tomato paste
1 (16-oz) can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16-oz) package of frozen mixed vegetables
Cook the pasta according to package directions. In a 4-quart cooking pot, sauté the onions in olive oil until they become translucent. Add the hamburger, cook thoroughly, and drain. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaf and salt/pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve with sourdough bread.

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp hot water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups wheat flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, white, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve the baking soda in hot water and add along with the salt. Stir in flour gradually, then chips and nuts. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets by the large spoonful. Bake for 11-13 minutes.